Hole Bowl reopens

Hole Bowl will reopen Monday after being closed since March due to the pandemic.

Hole Bowl to roll again

Shutting down a business for several months is bad enough. Try doing it twice in three years.

That’s what happened to Hole Bowl, which will welcome customers through its doors Monday for the first time since going dark March 17 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Hole Bowl has been through this before. Back in late May 2017 the Powderhorn Mall business was preparing to reopen after a several-months-long, forced hiatus. In early February, only seven months after the bowling alley debuted, the roof of Sears collapsed, forcing the adjoining businesses Axis Gymnastics and Sports Academy and Hole Bowl to immediately close.

Though each incident was a force majeure that necessitated an extended hiatus, Hole Bowl owner Jessica MacGregor said the pandemic is definitely the worse of the two.

“The roof collapse, looking back on it, was just kind of a crazy situation, but it only affected us,” MacGregor said. “This is so global. ... It’s just devastating for so many people.”

Hole Bowl will be following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Teton County protocols, she said.

All staff will wear face masks, and guests will be encouraged, but not required, to do so as well.

Hand sanitizer will be accessible throughout the business. At the arcades, spray bottles of germ killer will be available. Restaurant safety measures include giving customers disposable menus and not setting tables with silverware.

Hole Bowl has always “Lysoled” bowling shoes before and after each use, MacGregor said. Now bowling balls will be sanitized before customers pick them up. Instead of returning balls, customers will leave them at their lanes. Staff will retrieve the balls to guarantee they are sanitized before the next person grabs them.

And not as many people will be bowling at one time.

“We will social distance by cutting off lanes every other one,” MacGregor said.

The bowling, arcade games and restaurant have made Hole Bowl a gathering place for private parties along with business and nonprofit events.

“There is such a plethora of different uses for Hole Bowl,” MacGregor said. “So much more than people can really know.

“We want everyone to come back. We’re going to make it as safe as possible.”

Hole Bowl secured a Paycheck Protection Program loan through Zions Bank, a process she described as “rather easy,” thanks to “excellent” customer service.

“When there’s people that answer their phones and call you at 9 o’clock on a Saturday night to see how you’re doing with a PPP application, there’s a lot to be said for that,” she said.

But not being able to fill all the lanes will pinch.

“Just like every other business in town, unfortunately, we’ll see a lower expected revenue,” MacGregor said.

“It was devastating,” she said of the closure. “It still is.

“Like everybody we have a huge mountain to climb. We just have to hold tight. It’s going to be very difficult.”

Hole Bowl’s summer hours will be 4 to 10 p.m. daily.

— Jennifer Dorsey

Piglets salsa to-go will return

Merry Piglets manager Brooke Rice says that if she taste-tested the salsa her restaurant makes every morning and what it sells packaged she “probably could” tell the difference.

But she’s tried the test on other people and said the response has been, “I can’t tell the difference.” She said, “It’s pretty darn close.”

Salsa junkies will soon have the chance to try that test themselves when the packaged version returns to Piglets and other places after a short interruption.

Piglets’ salsa was made in Montana for about a year and sold at the Cache Avenue restaurant and online. The Montana maker was changing its business, though, and the salsa flow was shut down. Now a new maker, in Colorado, is about to resume mixing up the popular stuff.

Rice said the new maker went through “three or four trials” before she and her dad, restaurant owner Joe Rice, were satisfied. It’s likely to be available in a few weeks, she said. Rice also hopes to be able to place Piglets salsa in supermarkets and with speciality food shops.

The no-preservative recipe isn’t refrigerated but is still “shelf-stable” for longer than anyone ever keeps their favorite salsa around, Rice said. It will come in 16-ounce containers, price not yet set.

Piglets’ salsa has for years been an object of desire for customers, Rice said, and finding a way for them to buy it — other than showing up at the restaurant — was a natural business move.

“People asked all the time to see if we could sell the salsa,” she said.

During the period of about a year that the packaged version was in stock it sold well, she said.

Rice insisted that there was no big secret involved in the salsa and that the ingredients were just what you’d expect. On the other hand, she wasn’t, when asked for details, giving anything away: “We don’t share our recipes,” she said.

Merry Piglets began as a summer-only outdoor place created by Dean Betts in 1969, operating at Crabtree Corner, across from Town Square. Betts sold a couple of years later to the Winters family, which ran the place until 1989, when Joe Rice and his wife, Denise, bought it. They built the current location at 160 N. Cache in 1993 and expanded in 2000.

— Mark Huffman

Extherid merges with UK lab

The Jackson company Extherid Biosciences, started by Marnie Peterson, is merging with the U.K.-based laboratory Perfectus Biomed Limited.

Extherid will become Perfectus Biomed LLC and operate as a U.S.-based subsidiary of a holding company called Perfectus Biomed Group.

The merger means “an enhanced service and an expanded geographical offering” for clients, Perfectus CEO Samantha Westgate said in a press release.

Peterson, U.S. managing director and chief scientific officer of Perfectus Biomed Group, said in the release: “Extherid is currently a leading provider of customized ex vivo tissue models. As Perfectus Biomed Group, in addition to continuing to develop tissue models that simulate clinical performance of experimental technologies, we will be able to offer our U.S. and international clients a wide selection of standardized in vitro tests.

“Perfectus Biomed Group will be uniquely positioned to support clients beginning with preclinical development and throughout the regulatory filing stage.”

Before the merger, both organizations focused on customized testing to support product development and regulatory requirements.

“Clients with multinational needs who require such support will continue to receive the quality they expect from Extherid Biosciences, but the added expertise will shorten delivery times,” the press release said.

— Staff report

Nitrome lands $38M

Nitrome Biosciences, the Audience Choice award winner at Silicon Couloir’s 2018 Pitch Day, closed a Series A financing of $38 million earlier this year.

The biopharmaceutical company founded by Jackson Hole’s Irene Griswold-Prenner is developing drugs against a newly identified class of enzymes called Nitrases, initially targeting Parkinson’s disease, a press release said. The therapies that Nitrome is working on aim to slow or halt the progression of the disease and potentially other maladies.

“The financing is intended to support the advancement of Nitrome’s lead program targeting Parkinson’s disease toward human clinical proof of concept studies and to explore the application of the company’s platform technology in other age-related disorders,” a press release said

The financing was led by Sofinnova Partners and AbbVie Ventures with further participation from the Dementia Discovery Fund, Mission Bay Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments. Executives from Sofinnova Partners, AbbVie Venture and the Dementia Discovery Fund have joined Nitrome’s board of directors.

— Staff report

Online sales buoy tax receipts

While hunkered down at home to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections, Jackson Hole residents hit the web and went shopping. Those purchases helped curb the decline in taxable sales during the valley’s pandemic shutdown, Jonathan Schechter said last week.

During a June 3 conversation on Zoom with Silicon Couloir Executive Director Gary Trauner, Schechter said the latest sales tax collection declines (see Market Watch on page 5C) weren’t as bad as he or respondents to his recent economic outlook surveys expected. Retail sales reported in May, reflecting April business, were about the same as a year ago.

“Basically, our amount of online shopping in Teton County generating taxable sales — so stuff you’re buying from Amazon or wherever — that basically doubled,” said Schechter, a Jackson Town Councilor, economist and executive director of the Charture Institute.

He predicted the COVID-19 crisis will add momentum to significant headwinds that traditional retailers and tourism businesses already face, like finding and housing staff.

The COVID-19 crisis “is going to help push the transformation of Jackson Hole’s economy away from the traditional retail/tourism/lodging/restaurant kind of thing that we have come to see as dominating our economy to more the kind of stuff that Silicon Couloir has in its membership base. … businesses that are location-neutral or that don’t necessarily need the large bricks-and-mortar presence because they have a different customer base.”

Schechter and Trauner also discussed a national trend of people with a lot of money looking to leave cities and move to less densely populated areas. Schechter said one of the most disconcerting things he’s heard recently was that homes in Melody Ranch, Rafter J and Cottonwood are being bought as second homes, which they weren’t intended to be when developed.

The new arrivals will scoop up residences that now house Jackson’s working class, including longtime residents who have made a “huge” contribution to the community. That will ratchet up prices, he said.

“If we lose that housing stock to second homes or if we lose it to people that have got location-neutral businesses or something like that, I don’t see how it comes back to the traditional occupant who’s working in a traditional brick-and-mortar-oriented business,” Schechter said.

— Jennifer Dorsey

Mark Huffman edits copy and occasionally writes some, too. He's been a journalist since newspapers had typewriters and darkrooms.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.